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Toomey will vote for Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch barring 'shocking new discovery'

| Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017, 5:15 p.m.
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Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks to the crowd as his wife Louise looks on after President Donald Trump nominated him to the Supreme Court during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House January 31, 2017 in Washington, DC. If confirmed, Gorsuch would fill the seat left vacant with the death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.
Nate Smallwood | Trib Total Media
U.S. Senator Pat Toomey addresses the media in a press conference to call on his election opponent Katie McGinty to oppose Philadelphia's so-called sanctuary city policy.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey endorsed Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch after a half-hour meeting Tuesday and urged his Democratic colleagues to “work across the aisle” to quickly confirm the federal appeals court judge to the nation's highest court.

“I am absolutely a ‘yes' vote for the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch, barring some unanticipatable, shocking new discovery that I'm quite confident will not occur,” Toomey said during a conference call with reporters.

Toomey described Colorado's Gorsuch as an “eminently qualified” jurist with “unquestioned integrity and extraordinary intellect.” Further, Toomey said, “It's very clear to me that Judge Gorsuch understands the proper role of a judge. He will apply the law and the U.S. Constitution as they are written, not as someone might wish they had been written.”

Gorsuch would fill a vacancy created by the Feb. 13, 2016, death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. Four of the sitting justices were nominated by Republican presidents, and four were nominated by Democrats.

While obstruction from some Democrats in the Senate has slowed the process of confirming President Trump's Cabinet nominees, Toomey, a Lehigh Valley Republican, called on Democrats to cast aside partisan politics with Gorsuch.

“I've long held that when considering judicial nominees, objective qualifications and understanding of the role of a judge are more important than partisan politics. Senators should work across the aisle to help fill the federal bench with highly qualified jurists,” Toomey said.

As a Senate candidate, Toomey said he supported President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 but opposed the nomination of Elena Kagan. He said he has worked with Obama and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, to fill 16 vacancies on the federal bench in Pennsylvania.

Toomey was among Senate Republicans last year who opposed holding confirmation hearings for Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. With the election then about nine months away, Toomey argued that the pick should be left up to the next president. He also wasn't enthused by the choice of Garland.

“We talked about the concerns I have about his record and his judicial philosophy. Unfortunately, for me, throughout the process of this discussion, he did not assuage my concerns,” Toomey told Politico in April after meeting with Garland, a federal appeals court chief judge.

Casey plans to meet with Gorsuch on Thursday.

When Trump announced Gorsuch's nomination late last month, Casey expressed concern that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has “moved far outside the mainstream and has too often favored big corporations at the expense of our workers and middle-class families.”

Casey said he plans to “thoroughly review Judge Gorsuch's record, particularly his appellate decisions and his answers to questions during the (confirmation) hearing and those submitted in writing afterward.” Casey declined further comment Tuesday.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or

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